Type4me is a hardware clipboard for your digital copy and paste needs

type4me-hardware-clipboard

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and again we find ourselves wanting for a more extensible cut and paste experience. Most notably we’ve searched for something that makes is very easy to keep multiple things in the clipboard and paste them as needed. Although we’ve tried several software offerings nothing really made it up to grade, but this hardware clipboard looks very promising. [Luca Dentella] calls it Type4me as it functions as a USB keyboard.

The PIC 18F14K50 enumerates as a USB keyboard, allowing it to send characters anywhere the cursor is located. It sends whatever string is stored inside, with an optional return character at the end. In addition to its keyboard properties it also establishes a serial connection, which allows you to push new strings to the device. This setup does require you to do copy or type your strings into a serial terminal, along with one of four special commands which are parsed by the microcontroller. One of these commands allows you to save the string to EEPROM so that it will be persistent through a power cycle.

The pasting back to the computer takes a mere push of the button. We’ve embedded the video demo after the break. It’s in Italian but there are English subtitles. Near the end [Luca] shows off the device as a macro button for gaming.

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Unwrapping images of cylindrical objects

unwrapping-images-of-cylindrical-objects

Here’s an automated setup that lets you create flat images of cylindrical objects. The example shown above takes a creamer and lets you see what the painted pattern looks like when viewed continuously.

The image capture rig is similar to turntable photography setups that allow you to construct animated GIF files or 3D models of objects. The subject is places on a stepper motor which allows precise control when rotating the object between frames. The EiBotBoard (which we’ve seen in at least one other project) is designed for the EggBot printer. But it is used here to interface the motor and capture equipment with the Raspberry Pi.

We’re a little uncertain if the RPi actually handles the image manipulation. The project uses ImageMagick, which will certainly run on the RPi. There is a mention of the Raspberry Pi camera joing the rig as a future improvement so we do expect to see a fully-automatic revision at some point.

[via Adafruit via EMSL]

Papercraft dial is the slide-ruler of current limiting resistors

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This paper dial makes selecting current limiting resistors a snap. [Giorgos Lazaridis] came up with the tool, which he describes in detail in the Worklog tab of his writeup. If you want one of your own he also posted a PDF which you can print, cut, and tack together.

At this point we can calculate resistor values for LED circuits without looking at reference material. But it wasn’t always like that. This wheel will be a fantastic tool for those just starting out in hobby electronics who are trying to grasp the theory behind lighting up a simple project. The outer wheel references the source voltage, with the inner being a gauge of forward voltage across the LED(s). Line those two values up and you can read the optimal resistor value in the window seen to the right. But wait, there’s more! As you can see in the video after the break the opposite face of the dial also includes a window which will tell you the power dissipation so that you may choose a properly rated resistor. Slick!

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Microcontroller statistics with a small SRAM footprint

statistics-library-for-microcontrollers

You may know your way around the registers of that favorite microcontroller, but at some point you’ll also need to wield some ninja-level math skills to manage arrays of data on a small device. [Scott Daniels] has some help for you in this arena. He explains how to manage statistical calculations on your collected data without eating up all the RAM. The library which he made available is targeted for the Arduino. But the concepts, which he explains quite well, should be easy to port to your preferred hardware.

The situation he outlines in the beginning his post is data collected from a sensor, but acted upon by the collection device (as opposed to a data logger where you dump the saved numbers and use a computer for the heavy lifting). This can take the form of a touch sensor, which are known for having a lot of noise when looking at individual readings. But since [Scott] is using the Mean and Standard Deviation to keep running totals of collected data over time it is also very useful for applications like building your own home heating thermostat.

Deathly Hallows mark the passing of time

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Whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not we think you’ll enjoy this Deathly Hallows clock. The body is modeled after the triangle, circle, and line that make up the symbol that played a prominent role when concluding the fantasy novel series. A bit of motion and a couple handfuls of LEDs are what allow it to display the time of day.

[Yeenasty] started by building the triangular surround out of wood. In the center he added a circular veneer which was partitioned into twelve chambers. These indicate the hour and are illuminated one at a time from midnight until noon. Once all of the LEDs are switched on (as seen above) they are then extinguish one at a time from noon until midnight. [Yeenasty] mentions that this means the clock isn’t overly bright during the night-time hours.

Minutes are displayed by the wooden slat in the middle of the ring of LEDs. Here it’s showing 30 minutes after the hour because it is vertical and the bottom red LED is lit. The hand is mounted on a 180 degree servo so when it has made half of a rotation the hand backtracks 29 minutes and the LED at the other end is illuminated to continue progress around the face of the clock.

[via Reddit]

Kitchen scale key transplant

kitchen-scale-key-transplant

[Markus] is quite happy with his kitchen scale. It’s one of the tools he uses most frequently when cooking. But recently the button has begun to give him problems. He figures the years of spilling a little bit of this and that has mucked up the contacts. His solution was to bypass the button using a Cherry MX switch.

Really any replacement should do since the switch merely completes an electrical connection. But there’s a subset of hackers who swear by the Cherry MX switches that come in some keyboards. [Markus] had just such a keyboard on hand, which he was already using for parts, so he pulled out the switch and cut a hole in the scale’s case where he could mount it. After temporarily super gluing the switch in place he completed the task by filling the gap on the outside with hot glue, then running another bead of it along the inside. The addition of the ‘T’ key finishes the hack. The plastic key is easy to clean and will help shed flour, oil, or anything else he might spill during his culinary adventures.

This hack was fast and easy and may have convinced [Markus] to roll his own controller board for the device. We’ll keep a lookout for a follow-up post detailing those alterations.

USB to Serial adapter tells you what COM port you’re on

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Since most of us are long past the days of hardware serial ports, the USB to serial adapter has become a mainstay on the hacker’s tool belt. While they’re cheap and convenient, USB to serial adapters aren’t always the easiest thing to use: there’s always the issue of what COM port Windows is calling your USB to serial adapter, or what TTY device it is in Linux/OS X.

[Avishay] has a very, very cool solution to this problem: put a display on a USB to serial converter to tell the user what COM port the OS labeled it as.

The prototype runs on a PIC  18F2553 dev board. When plugged into a Windows box, the serial adapter sets up two USB devices. The first device is a Communications Device Class that handles the grunt work of the USB to Serial connection. The second USB device is a proprietary piece of software that grabs the current COM port number. This number is displayed on an LCD thanks to a host application on the Windows PC that reports the COM port of the Serial adapter.

It’s one of those ideas where you didn’t know you needed it until it was presented to you. An excellent tool from [Avishay], although maybe a pair of 7-segment LEDs would make it a more manufacturable device.